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21 April 2022

Accredited Employer Work Visa policy – what you need to know

Accredited Employer Work Visa policy – what you need to know


Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) has now released policy details for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (“AEWV”), as part of its complete overhaul of the current work visa system. The AEWV is to replace six work visa categories, many of which have already closed. The last of these will be the Essential Skills work visa category which will close on 3 July 2022.


This means that from 4 July any employers wishing to support new work visa applications for migrant staff will need to be accredited. Applications for accreditation open on 23 May, and we have outlined the key features of the new scheme below:


Types of Accreditation

  • There are to be two types of accreditation:
    • Standard accreditation – this will allow employers to support up to five migrant staff on AEWVs at any one time
    • High-volume accreditation – this will allow employers to support six or more migrant staff on AEWVs at any one time
  • Staff who hold other types of work visas (Essential Skills, Working Holidays, partnership, etc) do not count towards the quotas set out above
  • Employers can submit an application to upgrade from standard to high-volume accreditation, if they identify a need to have more than five staff on AEWVs. There will be a fee payable for this.
  • Franchisees and employers who place workers with controlling third parties (including labour hire companies) will need to meet additional requirements, including having a workforce comprised of at least 15% of New Zealand citizens or residents guaranteed at least 30 hours per week. These are referred to as ‘triangular employment arrangements’ by INZ, and it is the direct employer that must hold the accreditation, not the controlling third party.
  • Initial accreditation for employers will be valid for 12 months, where granted for the first time. Employer accreditation may be granted for 24 months with any subsequent application or renewal, unless the employer is a franchisee employer or an employer who places employees with controlling third parties, in which case accreditation will be limited to 12 months each time.


Minimum Criteria for Eligibility

  • All employers will need to meet generic requirements set out under INZ policy, which can broadly be summarised as follows:
  • Be a viable and genuinely operating business
  • Complete settlement support activities for migrant staff
  • Pay all costs and fees associated with recruitment, inside and outside New Zealand (this does not extend to visa application fees or airfares)
  • Compliance with specific immigration, employment, and business standards
  • The above requirements are similar to those previously required by INZ under the Accredited Employer scheme that was discontinued in 2021, however there is a greater onus placed on the settlement support activities for migrant staff.
  • Migrant staff and key people for the employer will need to complete modules via Employment NZ. These key people will include directors, partners, hiring managers, and HR managers.
  • Phoenix companies and those where key people, or the company itself, are subject to standdown periods or permanent bans from supporting migrant staff will likely not meet the criteria for accreditation.
  • Applications will be made via INZ’s ‘enhanced online system’, which was the platform used for applications under the 2021 Residence Category. The focus of the application stage for employers will be to ensure accurate declarations are provided regarding their eligibility for accreditation, with INZ set to place greater emphasis on post-decision assurance and verification.


Job Check Stage

  • Once accredited, employers will need to apply for a job check for each job that they intend to hire a migrant worker for. Multiple positions for the same job can be included in one job check if all details are the same.
  • Migrant workers will only be able to be hired on an AEWV if the job check has been passed.
  • General criteria include:
    • Remuneration of at least the median wage ($27.76 per hour from 4 July), and at market rate
    • Terms and conditions that comply with relevant employment laws and standards in New Zealand
    • Advertised to New Zealand citizens and residents, unless paid at 200% of the median wage or above
  • Some decisions around the AEWV scheme are yet to be made by the Minister, and one of those appears to be whether any exemptions will be made to pay at least the median wage, or if there will be any restrictions for other roles. More detailed information is expected about this stage of the AEWV scheme in the coming weeks.


Application for the AEWV and Post-Application Pastoral Care

  • Once the employer holds accreditation and the job check is completed, a migrant worker can apply for their AEWV.
  • As part of that process the employer will invite the migrant worker to apply, and the worker will then need to show that they meet health and character requirements and that they have the necessary skills and experience.
  • Once approved, an AEWV employer needs to provide support for the migrant worker for their stay in New Zealand, including providing work-related information within one month of the employment starting. The AEWV employer must also allow time for the migrant worker to complete online modules through Employment New Zealand, within one month of the employment starting.


The intent of the overhaul of the work visa system and of the AEWV is to ensure that New Zealand citizens and residents are ‘first in line’ for employment opportunities in New Zealand. INZ’s focus is also on combatting migrant exploitation and ensuring that migrant staff are hired to fill genuine shortages. Replacing six work visa categories with one is a substantial overhaul, and although many elements and themes of the Essential Skills work visa are still evident in the AEWV, the shift to an employer-led system is significant.


To discuss your options and eligibility under this new system, and to ensure that you take advantage of the best pathway to support existing and prospective staff before the implementation of the Accredited Employer Work Visa, contact one of our team today.